It’s Not Just a Place

Have you ever wanted to explore the World? See a new place? Learn a new language? Well let me tell you how that dream of yours can set sail!!

My sophomore year here at Salem State as a RA I attended one of my co-workers programs on studying abroad. I remember the day quite clearly. I remember Fatima Serra the study abroad advisor walking into Bowditch Hall and asking, “Where do you want to go?” All the first year students and the RA staff stared at her with no answer at all. Then her follow up question of, “What is stopping you from going?” Without hesitation everyone yelled out MONEY!! Fatima explained to all of us, that studying abroad is more affordable than most students think it is. After explaining how students can receive financial aid to study abroad and actually some programs are cheaper than being at Salem State, all of us became more excited.

 “Now where do you want to go?” Her face stared at me as I quietly responded, “A Spanish speaking country.” Fatima’s eyes lit up with joy as she excitedly told me, “We are having a summer session to Costa Rica!!” As she explained all the exciting excursions the students would be going on, I was hooked instantly!! How could you pass up going white watering rafting, climbing a Volcano, Zip lining, and much more!!

 Two days after the program in Bowditch I was sitting in Fatima’s office on South Campus ready to ask her more questions about the experience. She explained to me the process of studying abroad and how about getting financial aid. She was so knowledgeable and I knew I was in great hands and didn’t need to worry about anything. The process started a week later with me filing out all the paperwork and getting my recommendations in. I was accepted to go and I was so excited to be checking this off my bucket list.

 Now that summer came and it was time to take flight and the journey to begin. Meeting all the other Salem State students who were just as nervous as I was gave me ease on what was to come. Seeing everyone else I knew I would be safe and would have a blast. During the layover in Miami Florida we all became an instant family. Joking around and laughing in the airport created a strong bond between the twelve of us.

 During our time in Costa Rica the host family was the best part of the experience. Having a family to call yours in another part of the World is indescribable. While I was abroad my host sister delivered a new baby boy into the World, and I got to be in the hospital afterwards to see the baby. The one quote I will never forget my host sister saying was, “Come meet your new nephew!!” Of course that was in Spanish. I will never forget that day when I became part of the family and will always be a uncle to the newborn.

 Zip lining, white water rafting and the other excursions could not have been better. Having the opportunity to check these all off my bucket list in one trip was so exciting. The excursions were the best because we got to explore more of the country and see touristy areas. My favorite part of one of the excursions was when I woke up my director by smashing a coconut off the curb to break it open. Ask anyone who went with me, it was definitely the funniest part of the trip.

 What am I trying to say with all of this? Well I am strongly encouraging… no making it mandatory for you to leave Salem State for a summer, semester or even a break of college to study abroad. It is honestly life changing and when you return, you WILL be a different person. You grow so much studying abroad and appreciate so many more things when you return to the United States. Without this experience in my life, I would not be who I am today!!

 Henry Miller once said, “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” This quote could not be truer. So go out and go see things in a new way!!

 

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My host mother teaching me to dance!! 

 

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